I’m Fi Shoop and I’ve been on the radio off and on for over a decade but no one was ever brave enough to trust me with a playlist before. One of the things I love about this station is that we can choose whatever music we like. There is no set playlist which means I get to showcase new talent or play lesser-known tracks by established musicians.
The way I work is that every track except for the main album, One to Watch spot and my last song are all related to topics. My favourite link was Garth Brooks’ Beer Run when talking about the Lewes Beer Festival – and people think we just choose music because we like it! The last song is always my goodbye for the evening and has that word in the title or lyrics. It’s a good way to end the show and that’s also when the kettle goes on.
I have a set format for the show which varies slightly on busier weeks. One set of five tips has been quietly taken out of the running order for at least five shows so far – great shame as I have the best Stereophonics track to go with it! The tips are a time factor movable feature but the rest stands – news, songs, topics, reviews, drink-album match, big topic of the week, One to Watch and my sign off, followed by a goodbye track. I play 9-10 songs every week and you’re always welcome to get in touch and ask what they are if you missed the title. I make a point of announcing the tracks before and after playing them, just in case you walk into the room halfway through. It’s happened to me enough times when listening to the radio that I’ve made sure always to repeat myself so no one misses out.
I’m a complete newshound and even missed my magazine column deadline this week after being hooked on Brexit (sorry, editor!). I make notes for the show all week so I don’t forget any news stories or topics that I want to raise – whether that’s Twitter trolling (you can speak to me there on @FiShoop but no trolling, please!), knowing when to quit your job or gig etiquette. On a normal week, the news for the week takes about 2 minutes. During Brexit, it took much longer but I try to address it in such a way that anyone not interested in current affairs or politics doesn’t feel left out and so everyone enjoys the show.
It’s not always an easy balance and I turn some stories into topics so they become discussion pieces, not dry rundowns of facts. I still can’t believe people paid £150 for a hamper of M&S snacks and a poncho for the Queen’s 90th birthday soggy picnic – almost but not quite news, better addressed as a discussion topic. I also love Trump Corner which is about the latest ‘I can’t believe he said/did that’ moment from Donald Trump – radio gold but it feels more like a soap opera than real life.
My producer and I both dance to some of the tracks I play. I love guitar bands and driving rhythms so there are rocking moments every show. I mean literally rocking moments as the beat takes over and we can’t resist moving to it. I’ve never actually done that on any other show but the Cocktail Hour is that sort of programme. I hope you enjoy the music as much as I do.
Where do the drinks come in? Every week, when planning the show’s running order, I review drinks, then cocktail match the main album. As well as reviewing the album of choice and playing two tracks from it, I make a drink to enhance the listening process. Every song has to work with the cocktail or I have to start all over again. My record is seven cocktails. I was very relaxed after that! I usually get it right the first or second time – and that’s not nearly so fun but some albums just have obvious matches or a certain spirit works and you go from there. It’s hard work but huge fun.
And that’s what the Cocktail Hour is – no, not hard work but great fun. It’s news, views, reviews, drinks and the best music around.